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SHARON SCHOOLS Board will try to boost security



Published: Thu, February 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A better surveillance system would have helped identify those involved in a fight at a recent basketball game, one director said.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. -- The city school board will take a look at improving video security monitoring in its middle-senior high school.

A board committee will meet with a representative of HHSDR of Sharon, the architect on the building renovation project now under way, to formulate a plan.

School Director Dom Russo, speaking at Wednesday's school board work session, said the renovation makes this a good time to beef up security.

There is a single camera focused on the main entrance now and it feeds to a monitor in the office, but the image is poor and could never be used for identification purposes, he said.

Fight after game: If the school had a better surveillance system in place, videos could have been used to help authorities identify those involved in a fight near the end of the Sharon-Farrell basketball game Feb. 2, Russo said.

"I'm looking for top-notch security for today, for tomorrow," he said.

Superintendent Richard Rossi said that all of the building entrances will be wired for security as part of the renovation, and the board will determine how many cameras should be installed and how they will be monitored.

Russo also suggested a different seating arrangement in the gym that would have Sharon students on one side of the gym and all visiting students on the other. At this time, students from the rival schools are seated next to each other.

The fight, which police said involved between 70 and 100 people, started in the student section. No one was seriously injured but about a dozen people were treated for minor injuries or exposure to chemical spray used by police.

Officers attacked: Police said officers who went into the stands to break up the fight were attacked by some of the spectators.

Some Farrell residents have publicly complained that the police overreacted and targeted Farrell students, something police have denied.

Sharon School Director Richard Mancino, who was at the game, said police acted appropriately to control the crowd, as did a number of Sharon school administrators, school directors and school staff. He took exception to comments from some Farrell officials suggesting things weren't handled well.

Wants investigation: Farrell Councilman Lou Falconi, who is also a teacher and coach at Farrell, wasn't at the game but later called for Farrell to conduct its own investigation into the fight after Farrell students told him they were assaulted by police or sprayed with a chemical even though they did nothing wrong.

Mancino chided Falconi for his suggestions that police overreacted, saying that students should know that if police are trying to break up a fight, they shouldn't run up to the officers, jump on the officers' backs or grab the officers.

Mancino also took a shot at Farrell School Director James Guerino, who was quoted at a Farrell School Board meeting Monday as suggesting that Farrell did a better job of maintaining order at its games than Sharon did on Feb. 2.

There was a major fight involving a lot of spectators at a Farrell-Aliquippa basketball game he attended in Farrell a couple of years ago, Mancino said, adding that even the best security can't prevent everything.




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